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Communications Networking The Internet

Why Won't T-Mobile Let Us Binge On All Of It? 181

Bennett Haselton writes: T-Mobile has been accused of violating Net Neutrality by providing "Binge On" plans that come with unlimited data, but only from select streaming websites such as Hulu and Netflix streamed at low-quality speeds (while excluding Youtube and Google Play). Why not just duck the whole net neutrality debate by providing Binge On as a medium-bandwidth pipe, which has a limited data streaming speed, but can stream at that speed from any website? Read on for more on this question, and T-Mobile's stilted rationale for its provider-specific system.

Previously I had argued that any violations of Net Neutrality could not exist in a setting where the marketplace was (1) transparent and (2) competitive. Under conditions of transparency and competitiveness, if ISP X were providing Internet connections which blocked certain websites, then ISP Y could offer Internet connections at the same speed and the same price but without the browsing restrictions (competitiveness), and if users knew about this (transparency), they would all switch to ISP Y. (The exception would be if a provider blocks high-bandwidth sites in a scarce-bandwidth setting, e.g. when an in-flight wifi blocks Netflix. In this case it's not true that another provider could step in and provide the same service at the same cost with no filtering, so it's not a case of abusing monopoly power.)

So, the argument goes, any prolonged violation of Net Neutrality could only take place either due to lack of transparency (e.g., the board members of a major backbone provider silently blocking their downstream customers from reaching websites whose content they disagreed with -- yes, this really happened), or, lack of competition (the Comcast monopoly throttling BitTorrent and just generally sucking). So, the argument goes, anything that can survive only by exploiting those market-unfriendly conditions is a Bad Thing, and should be prohibited, by rules that require Net Neutrality for all content. Q.E.D.

But T-Mobile's Binge On service would appear to prove me dead wrong. There's no lack of transparency -- they freely admit that they provide unmetered data access only from certain whitelisted video providers (at downgraded speeds so that the video only plays in 480p quality). And there's no lack of competitiveness, with the Big 4 mobile providers pulling out all the stops to steal each other's customers. So why are normal market forces not having the expected result here?

In other words: Assuming that it would cost T-Mobile the same to provide a low-bandwidth unlimited-data connection to the entire Internet, (as opposed to a low-bandwidth unlimited-data connection to just their whitelisted sites), and given that customers would obviously prefer this, why would they not do that?

T-Mobile's official response is that they want to make sure that a video provider's content is "supported" -- so that T-Mobile can detect when video is streaming, and then request for the content provider to downgrade the video quality to 480p so that it uses less bandwidth. (Users still have the option of switching to high-resolution video, but then it counts against their monthly data quota.) This sounds at first like it makes sense, but there's something missing here -- why not just provide the Binge-On connection as a rate-limited connection, and let the streaming website detect the lower speed, and downgrade to lower-quality video automatically? This is in fact what happens with Youtube and Google Play video, if you try to stream from a connection that is only fast enough to support the lower-quality stream. If the connection is rate-limited, it's not possible for the video provider to stuff too much data into the user's connection and cause them to incur overage charges.

So, why not let Binge On users stream from any site, at the low-quality stream rate? In the best-case scenario, the third-party site will detect the user's slow connection and downgrade to low-quality video, as Youtube and Google Play can already do. In the worst-case scenario, if the streaming provider can't downgrade the stream, then it just won't play (unless the user plays the higher-bandwidth version that eats into their data plan) but then the user is no worse off than they are under Binge On's current implementation anyway.

I did hear back from T-Mobile's PR team, but our emails back and forth tended to go in circles. Repeatedly, they told me: The reason we have a whitelist is because those are the providers where we know we can automatically request for them to downgrade to low-res video. And repeatedly, I would say back: I understand that, but why not just provide Binge On as just a simple data pipe at a fixed low speed, and then any video provider will automatically be able to use Binge On if they can detect the low-speed connection and downgrade their video automatically? You can let users switch between a fixed low-speed pipe which doesn't count against the data quota, or a high-bandwidth pipe which does -- but why not let the low-speed pipe access all sites equally?

So, this is a genuinely puzzling question to me. Assuming it would not cost them anything additional for the Binge-On pipe to offer low-speed access to all video sites, why hasn't T-Mobile done this, and why haven't market forces more or less compelled them to do it? Before one of the other Big 3 providers swoops in and offers a low-speed unlimited data plan that works with all websites which are able to downgrade to low-res video?

Perhaps the explanation is that even in the mobile data industry, what looks like cutthroat "competition" is not actually that competitive. T-Mobile is stuck with the reputation of having coverage not quite as good as the other Big 3, so they've carved out niches in other ways -- calling themselves "the Un-carrier" and selling phones at full price without locking users into a contract, or offering pricey but really actually unlimited data plans (something none of the other Big 3 are doing yet). In their new niche, "unlimited data for $60/month as long as you can live with low-res video", there is currently no competition, and hence no competitive penalty for not broadening the service to include all video streaming sites. Can you think of a better answer?

If that's the case, then competitive forces may work, albeit slowly, as the other Big Three eventually offer some form of "unlimited data for low-speed content," and some of them will offer low-speed unmetered access to the entire Internet, and then all of them will have to follow suit in order to remain competitive. In the meantime, Binge On customers can get their favorite shows on Hulu with no data overages, but cannot do the same thing on Google Play. This will annoy and even outrage some people, but it's also a reminder that "market forces" do not necessarily solve the problems that Net Neutrality legislation is intended to solve -- at least, not very quickly.

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Why Won't T-Mobile Let Us Binge On All Of It?

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  • Yay! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 17, 2015 @01:28PM (#51138023)

    Welcome back Bennett Haselton! I have missed your random blog thoughts about your personal issues with various companies. You were a frequent contributor!!! It is really terrible what you are going through with T-Mobile. We need to make it a top priority to get your issue solved!!!

  • dedicated CDN servers to host the data close to the users, dedicated network equipment and circuits so the traffic doesn't degrade their other network traffic. Netflix and Hulu are probably picking up part of the cost of this being that you need this at multiple locations around the country. and it helps Netflix and Hulu as well since a lot of customers will use less data and will delay upgrading their CDN infrastructure chances are google doesn't want to participate contrary to luser belief, when you stream content it doesn't come from the other side of the country to make you feel cool and like an "advanced user"
    • But almost all big name content providers have this infrastructure already. The narrow part of the tube is from the tower to the device. The bits from the sanctioned content providers aren't any cheaper to deliver that last few hundred meters. By your argument we should have unlimited everything as long as its available from a CDN near the tower. Certainly the reason for binge on is that money changed hands so that the "in" providers are subsidizing the bandwidth.
      • by adamstew ( 909658 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @04:56PM (#51139533)

        Content providers are NOT subsidizing the bandwidth. T-Mobile will let any content provider participate, and they don't have to pay anything to get on the list of approved providers. The requirements are pretty straight forward:

        1) You have to identify the data to T-Mobile as streaming video data.
        2) You must use adaptive bitrate technology
        3) If you make changes to your streaming methods you have to give T-Mobile a heads up before those changes go live to ensure you still meet the requirements.
        4) You have to be able to tell T-Mobile when you are sending non-video content so they can count that against user data caps.
        5) You can only stream content legally (proper licenses to content, etc.)
        6) Don't violate their trademarks

        You don't have to pay, and T-Mobile will work with you directly to ensure you can meet their requirements. Once you've been approved, you're all set. No other requirements and you don't have to pay them anything.

        Source: http://www.t-mobile.com/conten... [t-mobile.com]

  • Why indeed? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 17, 2015 @01:33PM (#51138055)

    Why won't Slashdot let us binge on all of the rambling nonsense that Bennett Hasselton submits?

    I want to gorge myself on his meaningless musings on Dayling Savings Time, his banal ponderings about leap seconds, his pointless navel-gazing about drone regulation, and his idiotic proposals for instant runoff voting. The world is too complicated and disturbing, Slashdot, so please fill my brainpan with the mushy tapicoa that is every one of Bennett Hasselton's mundanities!

    • Don't forget his brilliant take on legal matters (there's an amendment between 4 and 6?) and his awesome solution to the burning man ice problem.


  • Or some similar deal with the content providers. This would be my guess.
    Or maybe it's just easier this way. I sure wish I could "binge on" my subsonic server though....

    IMO, asynchronous internet access for most destroyed any true net neutrality long ago. Your average home user has slower upstream and blocked ports to contend with.
    • Re:Kick backs? (Score:5, Informative)

      by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @01:56PM (#51138269) Homepage Journal

      There's nothing particularly nefarious about it, and no kick backs - T-Mobile have been clear no content provider is paying them for this, and others are welcome to join.

      The deal is "If you watch video via our compressed system, we'll make it free" combined with "If you let us recompress your video, we'll let our users watch it for free." That's it.

      T-Mobile wants to compress it, not let the content provider decide what bit rate to do it at, because this is about their network, not just one user on it.The fact a publisher might be capable of sending 1Mbps to a user doesn't mean this is in the best interests of everyone using the same tower as that user.

      So, T-Mobile makes the offer: "Hey providers, if you work with us and send your video in a way that means we can intercept and compress it further, we'll let you be a part of this scheme." It's reasonable. It doesn't violate net neutrality (it's available to Amazon and YouTube, they just choose not to use it - be it for political, financial, or technical reasons), and it's probably a good idea.

      • That does seem reasonable, on the face of it.
      • So, T-Mobile makes the offer: "Hey providers, if you work with us and send your video in a way that means we can intercept and compress it further, we'll let you be a part of this scheme." It's reasonable. It doesn't violate net neutrality (it's available to Amazon and YouTube, they just choose not to use it - be it for political, financial, or technical reasons), and it's probably a good idea.

        Do we actually know that they require intercepting and modifying the stream, or do they simply have a way to signal to their partner that, hey, for the moment, assume video requests coming from IP xyz is bandwidth capped and just go ahead and stream the 400kbps or less stream as your system already would after probing the need to downgrade, versus if the user signals to you that they want the HD despite the cost, in which case, post a message to this API in our billing/provisioning and stream the HD content

        • by PRMan ( 959735 )
          He's wrong. They are signalling the partner. This is the requirement to sign on to Binge On.
        • They are not intercepting and modifying the stream. They do have a requirement to participate that your streaming technology support adaptive bit rates, such that if the available bandwidth drops, your stream compensates and reduces in quality. But T-Mobile is not doing the reencoding for you.

      • by msauve ( 701917 )
        "others are welcome to join"

        OK, I'm willing to set the encoder on my personal Subsonic server to 480p video. How do I get my server included?
    • Re:Kick backs? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @02:09PM (#51138381)

      You can probably get your subsonic server through their process. They have five requirements, all reasonable:

      1. Identifiable signatures as streaming video. This may preclude https.
      2. Adaptive bitrate, so they can throttle/not the viewer transparently.
      3. Advance warning of modifications to your system (that impact how the video streams) so they can ensure that it still meets criteria when it goes live.
      4. Ability to ID non-video content
      5. You having a lawful right to stream the video.

      All in all, reasonable rules.

      . Full rules [t-mobile.com]

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        You having a lawful right to stream the video.

        And that's probably why YouTube isn't participating at launch, even though YouTube offers 360p and 480p streams: because YouTube is a hotbed of infringement.

        But more generally, if I produced a particular video, how can I tell whether I have the right to stream it? For example, if the music I composed for the video turns out to be an accidental infringement, in the sense of "My Sweet Lord" (Bright Tunes Music v. Harrisongs Music) or "Blurred Lines" (Gaye v. Thicke), I wouldn't have the right to stream it. Ho

        • You cannot tell whether it is the case til you've been sued.

          But the line for T-Mobile is probably whether you consider yourself as a streaming entity responsible for the content, or if you are DCMA Safe Harbor streamer.

  • My thought process (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @01:36PM (#51138075)

    1) Interesting RSS feed headline...I'm curious to hear the high points.

    2) Click link in RSS feed.

    3) Oh. Uhh...

    4) Oh. It's Bennett. Huh. I thought we were past this stuff.

    5) Complain that TFA is not supposed to be the same thing as TFS.

    6) Point out that if Bennett wants to post this stuff, either do it on his blog and submit a summary here, or else post it in the comments like the rest of us.

    7) Close the browser tab without reading anything more.

    • Not only that but if he knew WTF he was talking about he wouldn't need to post anything at all. T-Mo has free music streaming too. They have an API for it. All you have to do is register as a developer with them, stream your audio using that API and its free. It doesn't cost the subscriber anything. It's not unusual for a company to line up prominent partners in situations like this. Was anyone complaining when Apple Pay was only initially supported by select payment processors and banks? No. it's op
  • I suspect, with no proof whatsoever, that it isn't completely transparent. They are possibly getting kickbacks of some sort from their whitelisted partners which makes it economically better for them. Obviously the submitter is correct from a purely technical perspective, but money changes the game. T-Mobile customers end up encouraged to use those services which are unlimited so there is value there to Netflix etc. I can believe they would pony up some cash.
    • At least with their audio streaming counterpart, where they enroll specific services to not count against caps, there don't seem to have been any kickbacks or limits. They've been pretty good about bringing in a pretty wide list of services (they cite http://www.t-mobile.com/offer/... [t-mobile.com] as their current list). I could certainly be wrong of course - but one other possibility is that, because T-mobile is in 4th place among the major providers, they're desperate to find anything to set them apart from Verizon/AT
      • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

        I could certainly be wrong of course - but one other possibility is that, because T-mobile is in 4th place among the major providers, they're desperate to find anything to set them apart from Verizon/AT&T.

        Actually they are now the #3 carrier, as their gains in subscribers the past few years they have manged to slightly overtake Sprint.

    • by Andy Dodd ( 701 )

      The "kickbacks" could be in the forms of "technical support".

      While the theory posted in the article (that automatic rate adjustment) indicates that this should be OK with any content provider, the truth is, rate detection of some providers (think cbs.com in 2014 for example, and SlingTV at all times) is REALLY horrible.

      Let's face it - you're going to get much better rate detection (for example, not even bothering to try a 720p stream) if you can explicitly tell the content server - this connection will NEVE

    • Bennet misses the point. The provider wishes spend the minimum needed on (bandwidth) infrastructure while keeping customers happy. 70% of customer data is Netflix, so if users agree to use SD Netflix rather than HD it reduces the cost to the provider significantly.

      The strategy to entice users to use SD Netflix rather than HD is to offer an exception to monthly bandwidth allotment. Bennet then supposes that the economics are exactly the same for all services, but they aren't. Excluding Netflix from the a

    • by PRMan ( 959735 )
      One guy tested T-Mobile by making his home music server work with their interface. He signed up for the Music plan just for himself and his family and they approved him. No money involved. The only thing was writing to the interface.
  • by 31415926535897 ( 702314 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @01:38PM (#51138097) Journal

    That was a lot of words formed in ignorance, so I didn't bother to read all of them.

    I support Net Neutrality, and to my surprise, so does the FCC's Tom Wheeler. The FCC has said this service does not violate Net Neutrality and they're going to keep an eye on it.

    Why does it not violate Net Neutrality? Because, as you pointed out, any service can sign up for Binge On. Is it too much to ask that a video service go through some kind of certification process with T-Mobile before that happens?

    Just because T-Mobile doesn't do it YOUR WAY doesn't mean it's bad for Net Neutrality.

    Maybe you're just too smart and T-Mobile should hire you so that you'll stop posting here.

    • Is it too much to ask that a video service go through some kind of certification process with T-Mobile before that happens?

      Maybe.

      Speaking obliquely to avoid NDA issues, at one point it was not unusual that the certification fees for certain gatekeepers in the video game space to outstrip an entire indie game's budget. And that was not counting the cost of actually complying with the certification requirements, just the fees to have that third party verify that you had.

      Of course, it's like many things, fin

      • by Andy Dodd ( 701 )

        That doesn't seem to be the case for Binge On, since T-Mo states their criterial in a public document:

        http://www.t-mobile.com/conten... [t-mobile.com]

        In some ways, the way I read it is that T-Mo will effectively spend money (in terms of engineering resources/staffing) in working with a content provider to come up with a proper solution.

        It sounds a lot like how some people have described our wired Internet infrastructure in large hubs works - frequently engineers from multiple providers would work together to come up with

        • Yes, and those video game gatekeepers also spelled out their criteria as well in detail. And they also contributed money/resources/staff to ensuring you understood them. Both of those made it more possibly for an indie. But not easy.

          Not that I begrudge them their standards. They had a brand to protect, and the surest way to shit on it would be to relax their criteria. But it definitely also cut down on competition, and other bad results.

        • Their "Technical Requirements" document is very lacking in the technical details department. It basically just says don't use UDP, use adaptive
          bit rates, and if you use https to protect your users then we reserve the right to tell you to fuck off but if we like you then it's okay. It doesn't even mention what video formats are supported for their automatic signature detection or if there is a way to force traffic to be flagged as video.

    • Tom Wheeler can praise zero rated services all he wants, it is still without a doubt the opposite of net neutrality. Go look up the definition of net neutrality because you clearly do not know what it is. Even if any video service can sign up to be included (I've been unable to find any clear application process or technical requirements), they are still giving one content type preferential treatment over others. Why should people watching 480p video stream get the data for free but people that want to down

    • T-Mobile is choosing who gets to use their free-lane. Yes, this is bad no matter how transparent they are. You just don't see it yet because T-Mobile doesn't have their own video service (yet) to push on you.

      • T-Mobile has said that everyone is invited to join. Everyone. Just follow the technical requirements that are very straight forward and you're in. You don't have to pay any money.

    • No!! Don't suggest that Bennett should work for T-Mobile, that's the carrier I use.

      Now if you had suggested AT&T or Sprint I would be on board.

      And I'm also supportive of any suggestion that results in my not having to see Bennett's ramblings.

  • by Ionized ( 170001 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @01:39PM (#51138115) Journal

    Assuming that it would cost T-Mobile the same to provide a low-bandwidth unlimited-data connection to the entire Internet, (as opposed to a low-bandwidth unlimited-data connection to just their whitelisted sites)

    Why would you assume that? If I can only unlimited stream from Hulu and Netflix, but pay for the data to stream YouTube, I may very well watch less YouTube, and there may not be a 1:1 replacement with Hulu or Netflix watching - since YouTube fills a very different role in video consumption. T-Mobile could very well be saving money by excluding YouTube from the free streaming.

    There's also the possibility of kickbacks - maybe Hulu and Netflix are paying T-Mobile for the privilege of unlimited streaming. It's certainly a competitive advantage for them compared to other video services. So even if COST is the same, REVENUE may be greater with the whitelist scenario.

    • by rsborg ( 111459 )

      Assuming that it would cost T-Mobile the same to provide a low-bandwidth unlimited-data connection to the entire Internet, (as opposed to a low-bandwidth unlimited-data connection to just their whitelisted sites)

      Why would you assume that? If I can only unlimited stream from Hulu and Netflix, but pay for the data to stream YouTube, I may very well watch less YouTube, and there may not be a 1:1 replacement with Hulu or Netflix watching - since YouTube fills a very different role in video consumption. T-Mobile could very well be saving money by excluding YouTube from the free streaming.

      You simply don't make sense here at all unless there are kickbacks.

      There's also the possibility of kickbacks - maybe Hulu and Netflix are paying T-Mobile for the privilege of unlimited streaming. It's certainly a competitive advantage for them compared to other video services. So even if COST is the same, REVENUE may be greater with the whitelist scenario.

      T-mobile has said there are no kickbacks. If we later find out that to be false, now they're liars (knowingly violated FCC/NN rules) and look like idiots. To be honest, with their 3rd place ranking, if TMO were trying to rake in profits while claiming not to, they would be angering a) FCC which would bring suit against them b) customers who feel like *their* video service should be on bingeOn c) streaming providers who don't want to have

      • by Ionized ( 170001 )

        Ok, I will make it easier for you. given these two possible scenarios:

        A) unlimited data to youtube (and everything else)
        B) data cap that applies to youtube (but unlimited data to some other services)

        can you imagine that people may watch less youtube videos in scenario B than they would in scenario A?
        ok, if you can accept that premise, let's move on to...

        B1) instead of watching youtube videos, user watches hulu
        B2) instead of watching youtube videos, user reads cracked articles or watches cable tv or reads a

      • I take T-mobile's word as well but I also commented earlier that I suspect that money changed hands. My guess is that there is "joint marketing" happening which is where the money gets exchanged. And I don't think there's any regulation against this. Anybody can sign up for "Binge On" and there's no cost to the transaction. But if you want to advertise together with T-Mobile you pay. Splitting the advertising cost seems to make sense and probably the first Binge On providers were the ones who would mak
  • by rminsk ( 831757 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @01:43PM (#51138143)
    Why not post the actual requirements for content providers. http://www.t-mobile.com/conten... [t-mobile.com]
  • Serious question: When T-Mobile first did this with a handful of music streaming services, where were these same questions about fairness? Then T-Mobile opened up to more and more steaming music services over time. Any questions or complaints then? This continued until they eventually decided to do the same practice with Video. But for some reason, freely streaming video is controversial whereas freely streaming music is not? If the video streaming goes anything like it does for the unlimited music streamin

  • by kaiser423 ( 828989 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @01:51PM (#51138209)
    For some reason Bennett thinks that the free market works nearly instantaneously, and everyone gets perfect information instantly and instantly makes the switch. The real world takes a bit longer than that for information and action to spread. It often takes multiple years before a market shakes out problems like this. This is Econ 101 stuff -- stop puzzling and read some case studies.
  • If any of you morons had bothered to actually read what Network Neutrality, the real world law, was about you would understand what T-Mobile is doing is perfectly fine, unlike the version crafted in your delusional fantasies which will never happen.

    Do you think the FCC did not write the NN rules with full input from the industry? It was even reported at the time that they did.

    What NN is about is entrenching the position of existing ISP's and making any entry of competition harder. Which is also what most r

    • Ah yes... The "name is something that sounds good in the press releases" but what actually is in there is anybody's guess. Nobody is going to read that thing and who would come out and say they oppose "Clean Air" "Clean Water" or "Food for starving children"....

      Are we tired of typical politics yet?

  • Bennett (Score:4, Informative)

    by MagicM ( 85041 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @01:55PM (#51138255)

    Damnit, I clicked the article. Now Slashdot editors will think we enjoy Bennett's posts because they get a lot of clicks.

    I'm sorry, but I have to do something to offset this:

    Bennett Haselton posts suck.

    I hope that's enough.

  • I am not familiar with all the fine details of the US broadband market but as a carrier I have two distinct advantages: I always know who the consumer (identity, location, full map of all traffic limited only by the cost of DPI equipment) and everyone has to go through me to get to the customer.

    This means I could just charge streaming services for access to my customer base; I assume legislation prevents this. Instead I would use the whitelist to steer my customers towards certain services online and demand

    • by PRMan ( 959735 )
      And this would be a huge black eye and negative PR for a company who's selling point is tons of positive PR.
  • by Shoten ( 260439 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @01:56PM (#51138273)

    If you're watching Hulu or Netflix...YOU are WATCHING them. The amount of bandwidth you will actually consume will be governed and restricted by your free time to spend watching the content (or the amount of content that interests you, whichever is less).

    In contrast, other uses...like downloading and sharing files (the nightmare scenario of all bandwidth-conscious service providers) can continue merrily along without you even being awake. You could keep that up 24/7, and end up consuming far more bandwidth even if all other things are equal.

  • I very vaguely remembered something about this so I had to look it up. This t-mobile thing could have something to do with the Netflix Open Connect as documented on the Netflix site [netflix.com]:

    The Netflix Open Connect Initiative provides our millions of members the highest-quality viewing experience possible through efforts with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to most efficiently deliver content. We partner with hundreds of ISPs to localize substantial amounts of traffic with Open Connect Appliance deployments and have an open peering policy at our interconnection locations.

    Also I found this old gizmodo article [gizmodo.com].

    It wouldn't surprise me if T-Mobile and netflix simply negotiated a deal to provide one of these appliances. And/or the special t-mobile edition of said appliance uses some kind of proprietary compression algorithm optimized for mobile bandwidth.

    Obviously I'm only speculating but it w

    • by Andy Dodd ( 701 )

      That's probably part of it. The Netflix Connect box eliminates much of an ISP's backhaul costs.

      In T-Mobile's case, their backhaul costs are probably not nearly as much as their spectrum/tower costs. (Although I know in the early LTE transition days, tower backhaul WAS an issue, but I think Netflix's solution was more of a provider core network thing...) So perhaps I should treat "backhaul from Internet to core network" as different from "backhaul from core network to tower". This system helps them manag

      • That's probably part of it. The Netflix Connect box eliminates much of an ISP's backhaul costs.

        We are not talking about a wired ISP here but a wireless provider. Backhaul cost are not significant. The limited (and expensive) resource is the spectrum/towers here and this is where congestion happens. If backhaul was the problem, then they could offer monthly caps as high as wired ISPs (hundreds of GBs per month).

  • by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @02:05PM (#51138341)

    Sorry Bennett, mobile carriers can pretty much do what they want, how they want, when they want. You could switch carriers you know, go to Sprint or Verizon or AT&T or one of their VNOs. Grow a pair and stop being such a whiny bitch.

  • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @02:08PM (#51138371)

    Here I was completely confident that Bennett Haselton got a new persona called StartsWithABang to keep feeding his attention whoring on Slashdot. But now we get an article from each posted on the same day so there goes that theory.

    So with multiple people now whoring the front page have Dice automated the process? Is there a form I can fill out combined with Paypal checkout that allows me to post shit for a year without recourse?

  • Idiot Incarnate (Score:2, Insightful)

    by popdookey ( 253795 )

    This guy is a complete Idiot Incarnate. Period. Given his brilliant insights, perhaps he can architect the "simple data pipe" that he suggests T-Mobile implement. How, or why, is this a Slashdot story?

  • "Accused of"? Isn't that a little like accusing the sky of being blue? Jeffery Dahmer of having weird dietary habits? Yoda of being grammatically unconventional? ISIS of being intolerant? There's a point where an accusation is really just stating the obvious.

  • And there's no lack of competitiveness

    That's where you are wrong. It's an oligopoly.

    exception would be if a provider blocks high-bandwidth sites in a scarce-bandwidth setting, e.g. when an in-flight wifi blocks Netflix

    That's not an exception. It's a violation of net neutrality only possible because in-flight WiFi is a monopoly.
    Competition would tend to treat all data, no matter if it's Netflix or web browsing, the same.

  • And there's no lack of competitiveness, with the Big 4 mobile providers pulling out

    There is a serious lack of competitiveness.

    I live 20 minutes outside of a one of the biggest metropolitan areas in America. 2 of those 4 provide service to my home. 1 of those 4 provides service to my home and office. And there would only be 2 providers if the FTC hadn't interfered with recent acquisitions.

    There's no shortage of anti-competitive behavior from these "big 4" companies. We have the courts, regulatory bodies, and librarian of congress to thank for the ability to unlock our phones, get out o

  • Most Cellphone users are not sophisticated enough to switch between the two pipes you propose.

    So, they will either get stuck in the slow unlimited one and complain about crappy services, or get stuck in the limited fast one, and complain about overcharges.

    Therefore, among many other things, T-Mobile needs the contend deliverer cooperation to provide the technical means to do the switching behind the scenes, and transparent to the users...

    PS: How do I get my ramblings published to /.'s front page?

  • It seems obvious to me that the real reason for "Binge On" is that it gives T-Mobile the mechanism to double-dip.
    For example if FaceTube wont pay TMO some fee, then it won't get in the "Binge On" whitelist so FaceTube won't be used as much by TMO customers. Just a clever but simple way for TMO to sell customers to content providers.

    • by hpa ( 7948 )

      Except T-Mobile doesn't charge for this. They just provide a (human and machine) protocol by which content providers can opt in to what amounts to dynamic traffic control. What it is is giving the consumer an incentive (not counting toward caps) for conserving a limited resource (T-Mobile radio spectrum.)

      Now, if T-Mobile *were* charging content providers for this service it would be a very, very different matter.

  • Sometimes it seems Bennett needs to use a little bit of logical thinking before going off on his tirades. If T-Mobile can tell a video stream to downgrade, then they know what is going on. If you can go to any site at a slow pace, then that means any site not just streaming. Downloading mass amounts of bit torrent files will not count toward your cap if there is no cap. That is very different from watching tons of streaming and it not counting toward your cap. Not too many people can watch TV all day, 24 ho
  • What they are targeting, without kickbacks or other backroom deals, is a service by which users on mobile devices get a downgraded version of a particular service which most likely accounts for 80% or more of their traffic. As long as any provider can opt in without T-Mobile charging them anything more than a reasonable one-time administrative fee I don't see any problem.

    I, as a T-Mobile customer, have the ability to opt out which is critical. If I lived somewhere where I could only get slow DSL or no wir

  • If they turned this on for everyone, users would expect to be able to binge on any video site on the internet and get a reasonable experience. When that doesn't happen for high bandwidth content users will blame T-Mobile for their crappy bandwidth, especially when they see it plays just fine on Verizon or AT&T. Also they don't want to have to guess what content will work well and what won't

    By only allowing services that are willing to format their videos in a low-res compressible form, it ensures t

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